A First for Australia: Collective Action to Stamp out Litterbugs
Although it’s a topic often swept under the rug (if you will pardon the pun) litter is now looming large in social and government agendas, and with the NSW state election season coming up it’s a key part of their plan to improve our state.
Drawing delegates and presenters from across the country and internationally, the KNSWB Congress: Less Litter, Live Better – held on Friday and Saturday – was the first time Councils, industry and community organisations had a forum for sharing and establishing best practice to tackle the litter crisis. The focus of the Congress was long-term solutions to the litter problem that engaged communities and citizens in prevention rather than clean-ups.
The presentation that got everyone thinking was a workshop to explore in-depth psychology behind littering, from leading thinkers in behaviour change, Rob Curnow and Paula Drayton. This looked at the curious and frustrating phenomena whereby people still discard cigarette butts within metres of a bin, or why those who abhor littering on the beach will happily drop their waste on the ground of a sports stadium. Various justifications abounded, but the most interesting thing to come out of studies? Everyone litters, sometimes. No one’s guiltless and it has to do with deep-seated attitudes as well as dubious but unexamined definitions of exactly what litter is.
Rather than cause to lament, this is a great example of how awareness – one of the three pillars of litter reduction, which are Infrastructure, Education and Enforcement – can continually be used to improve littering practices and help conserve our beautiful environment.
Projects with proven success in this area were showcased from Bankstown, Penrith City, Blacktown and Manly Councils, as well as Porirua City Council in New Zealand. The First Appin Scout Group, Bushcare, Keep Australia Beautiful National and other organisations who have taken steps in reducing and preventing litter also exhibited their ideas.
It’s not just Councils who are hard at work in this arena. The National Packaging Covenant Industry Association took the opportunity to launch at the Congress their newest initiative, Australia’s Litter Action Plan, a program that will invest $50 million in reducing litter by 20% nationally by 2025. But NSW Government goals aim to keep the state well ahead of the game, with an ambitious target of a 40% reduction in litter by 2016. This is to match Victoria’s impressive record which currently tops Australia in terms of litter volume and number of items.
We were honoured to be the host of such an inspiring gathering, and want to give a big thank you to our partners Lion, Wrigley, the Australian Packaging Covenant, SITA Australia and our Congress Presenting Partner, the NSW EPA, for their support in enabling the event.
Congress Presenting Partner
Congress supporting partners